Incumbent Percy Bland and former Lauderdale County supervisor Jimmie Smith are headed to a runoff on April 27 for the Democratic nomination for Mayor of Meridian.
The two veteran public officials received the highest vote totals of the five candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Bland won 1,689 votes, or 34%, and Smith garnered 1,976 votes, or 40 %, according to unofficial results.
“I’m surprisingly happy about it,” Smith told The Meridian Star on Wednesday. “It’s a good feeling to have led the ticket.”
Smith, who served as a county supervisor for more than 20 years, believes that Meridian needs to employ a full-time city engineer, who would help plan city projects.
He also thinks that the city needs a full-time mayor.
“That’s a full-time job,” he said. “My focus will be on addressing the problems of the city.”
Voters across the City of Meridian headed to the polls on Tuesday to vote for the Democratic…
Bland, who is seeking a third term as mayor, said he and his team are excited about the runoff election.
“We’re going to define the difference and the clear choice that the citizens will have between our administration — an administration that’s been modernizing our city — and a candidate of the past,” Bland said.
He said he and his team are committed to bringing “great projects and developments” to downtown and all areas of the city. He added that his administration is working to increase the city’s tourism revenue, which the administration will use to pave more streets and to support the police department and school district.
Three other candidates also sought the Democratic nomination for mayor. Ward 4 council member Kim Houston garnered 803 votes, or 16 %; Randle Lyle Jennings won 97 votes, or 2 %; and former Ward 2 council member Tyrone Johnson won 323 votes, or about 7 %.
A runoff election is necessary for the mayoral race because no candidate received more than 50% of the vote. The winner of the runoff will face Robert J. Ray, a Republican, and current Ward 5 council member Weston Lindemann, an Independent, in the general election on June 8.
CITY COUNCIL SEATS
There was not a Democratic primary for the Ward 1 city council seat. Incumbent Republican George Thomas will face Rankin Elizabeth Eason, an Independent, in the general election.
Incumbent Dwayne Davis won 687 votes, or 78%, in the Democratic primary for the Ward 2 seat. He defeated Eddie Gray Holt, who garnered 173 votes, or 21%.
Davis won a special election for the Ward 2 seat last June. Tyrone Johnson had to vacate the seat in February 2020 because his fellow city council members determined that he did not live in the ward.
No Republicans or Independents are running for Ward 2 this year, which means that Davis will keep his seat on the council.
Joseph Norwood Jr. and current Ward 3 council member Fannie M. Johnson are headed to a runoff on April 27. In Tuesday’s election, Norwood won 438 votes, or 45%, and Fannie M. Johnson won 320 votes, or 33%. Adrien Davis garnered 216 votes, or 22%.
The winner of the April 27 runoff will face James "JJ" Scott (R) in the general election.
Educator Romande Gail Walker defeated Alicia Elaine Smith in the Ward 4 primary. Walker won 473 votes, or 67 %, and Smith won 236 votes, or 33 %.
Walker will be the next Ward 4 councilmember, as no Republicans or Independents are running for the ward’s seat.
Current Ward 4 councilmember Kim Houston lost her bid for mayor on Tuesday and will vacate the seat this summer.
A runoff is likely in Ward 5, as no candidate won more that 50% of the vote on Tuesday. Tyeasha “Ty” Bell Lindsey garnered 359 votes (41%), Allan “Al” Willis won 190 votes (22%); Khristen Cockrell garnered 180 votes (21%) and The Rev. George Parks, Jr., won 128 votes (15%).
It wasn't clear on Wednesday who will be in the runoff, as Willis had received only 10 more votes than Cockrell as of Tuesday night. The city was processing affidavit ballots on Wednesday, according to Brandye Latimer, the city's chief financial officer and city clerk.
Voters who cast an affidavit ballot have until April 13 at 5 p.m. to present their photo identification at City Hall. The city may receive more absentee ballots, too; they must be postmarked by Tuesday and received by April 13 at 5 p.m.
Latimer said the race will be called next week.
The winner of the runoff will face Republican Chad Acton in the general election. The seat will be open because current Ward 5 council member Weston Lindemann is running for mayor.
There are 19,718 registered voters in the City of Meridian, and 4,924 cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, making the turnout rate about 25%.
The city has until April 16 to send certified results from primary elections to the Secretary of State’s office.